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BASARA Svetislav

Serbia

Basara describes himself as a brilliant observer of a unity of time, place and action, and well known for his habit of talking about phenomena and ideas he knows nothing about. And yet, he gathers all the materials he needs like an ant.
According to critics, he is "mad, a genius, a libertarian, an entertainer who is insolent and sentimenta"l (Telerama), "mean and cruel in a funny way" (Livres Hebdo), "a mad writer" (Le Devoir) and "Candid in Mongolia" (Le Matricule des Anges) ; Le Figaro Littéraire describes his book as "a guide into the land of the absurd."

The reader will have understood by now that Svetislav Basara, a Serbian diplomat and writer is considered one if the most brilliant in his generation, a real phenomenon oft compared with Emir Kusturica. It may very well be because of their common Balkan roots, but it is above all because of their vitriolic style which is both poetic and hilarious.
Svetislav Basara was born in Bajina Basta, formerly Yougoslavia, now Serbia, on December 21, 1953. He has never wanted to leave his country in spite of its chaotic history.

He has written about twenty books, and has been awarded numerous prizes, and his novel, Fama o biciklistima published in 1988 and not yet translated in French, was acclaimed by the critics and considered one of the ten best Serbian novels of the decade. In 2006, he was awarded the NIN prize by the eponymous magazine, one of the most prestigious for a Serbian writer.

Svetislav Basara is one of the most important writers in Eastern Europe and his latest novel, Guide de Mongolie (Les Allusifs, 2007) for the French translation only serves to confirm his status. It is the epitome of caustic humour, of the Balkan blues and absurd and drunken philosophy. Truly hilarious !


Bibliography

In English

  • Chinese Letter
  • Civil War Within

In French

  • Guide de Mongolie (Les Allusifs, 2007)
  • Le miroir fêlé (Les Allusifs, 2005)
  • Phénomènes, copie d’un manuscrit brûlé (Gaïa, 2004)
  • Histoires en disparition (Gaïa, 2001)
  • Le pays maudit (Gaïa, 1998)
  • De bello civili version vitamine C (Gaïa, 1996)

Synopsis of Guide de Mongolie :

The narrator receives a letter from a friend who has just committed suicide, asking him to go to Mongolia in his place and write a travel guide to that country. The narrator grabs this opportunity to leave his shitty country and maybe to escape the security police who are much too interested in the novel he is writing, or else to see his only love in an impossible place or maybe just to flee …
In Ulan Bator, he encounters a Dutch bishop, a Russian officer who has become a grand lama, the American correspondent of a long dead newspaper, a living dead Frenchman with a lecherous past, an Italian psychoanalyst and a film actress. The dialogues in this hilarious novel more often than not take place in the bar of the Ghengis Khan hotel where vodka flows freely. The conversations revolve around subjects such as the ontological foundation of human beings, the links between life and death, which are much more obvious that first appears, and between God and the devil and other such hot metaphysical issues.